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Thread: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

  1. #1
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    Default Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    I am using 'corps' here in one of its British senses, such as the Royal Army Service Corps or the Royal Army Medical Corps.

    The arms (infantry, artillery, armour) are the obvious candidates for contributing most as they do all the fighting.

    But if men aren't fit to fight then they're useless, so the medical services become important, from avoiding or reducing disease by field hygiene to providing medical services. In New Guinea in WWII the ratio of disease to battle casualties exceeded 30:1 at times, which was reduced by medical corps instituted measures as simple as rolling down sleeves before dusk to minimise bites by malarial mosquitoes.

    But if the medical services and the men in the arms don't receive supplies then often they can't peform their functions effectively.

    Then there are the field engineers who clear obstacles for the arms and the mechanical engineers who keep the machines moving and various other corps which all contribute to the needs and operation of an army.

    Frankly, I don't think that one can identify any one corps as contributing the most to an army's effectiveness as they are all necessary parts of the whole army. But I think that far too little attention is paid in much amateur military history to the people behind the battlefield scenes whose efforts were crucial to battlefield actions.

    Nowadays they become even more remote in functions maybe even a couple of continents away from the action in running electronic monitoring or control systems which inform or aid battlefield commanders and leaders even down to platoon level.

    And the reality is that even during WWII the vast bulk of troops, or at least Allied troops, never got anywhere near a battle because most troops were engaged in rear area activities supporting the front line troops.

    While it's fun for people to disparage them as REMFs, it might be the case that, for example, an Allied transport driver who kept up his effort from mid-1944 to Germany's surrender made a measurable and vastly greater contribution to Germany's defeat than some poor bastard who got shot dead or wounded and taken out of the war on a Normandy beach on D Day.

    So, do we measure effectiveness and contribution solely by the intensity of front line conflict and the viciousness of that conflict or by other factors which, on a more dispassionate assessment, evaluate all the factors and corps which contributed to achievement of the aim?

    Do we make the mistake of equating military effectiveness or military importance with the scale or intensity of battle, which is always attractive and interesting to most amateur military historians, rather than evaluating the wider issue of overall effectiveness judged by the cohesion of all corps, most of which are not engaged in battle, in achieving the aim?
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 03-03-2009 at 06:40 AM.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    In the British Army the Royal Engineers while being just 8% of the army were making up 25% of the deployed strength (That would also include the Att's ans Det's that are organic to the Regiments)

    Tasks would involve

    Combat Engineering (Assaults,Force protection construction, patrols, route clearance,demolition, EOD, Etc)
    Infrastructure Engineering (Construction, maintenance, expertise for civilian agencys)
    Geographic Data (Mapping and all that jazz)

    Despite anything that has and will be said though no part can really work well without the whole gammut of the forces.
    For short periods a single type of unit may be able to work and manage on their own but the longer the deployment the more different types of unit need to be involved.
    There is also several 'surge' times when more of one type of unit will be deployed
    ie
    Early on Engineers to build up camps and infrastructure with a small local defence force of infantry/armour
    Camp built most engineers move on and more combat troops move in
    So at different times there will be a change to the force composition

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    There is no good answer to this.

    The military is a team effort.

    It is unfair to disparage any group by putting a value on any part of the military.

    One might favor oranges over apples, but comparing them is an exercise in futility.

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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    Well, even though I agree 100% with forager that the army is a team effort, and that without any part they're pretty much screwed, I'd say Military Intelligence is the most important part.

    An army cannot fight an enemy if it doesn't know where he is.
    The fundamental problem of Democracy is that the majority of voters are idiots fueled by uninformed rage - and the Politicians do everything to cater to them.

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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    Most of all? Supply corps. Without them, no one would go anywhere, use anything, or do anything.

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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    As a former member of military intelligence, I can say that MI typically has no ****ing idea about where the enemy is other than to say they are where we try not to be... They usually are far stronger, in different places, and have much higher morale than we think. Just ask the "poor bloody infantry!"

    But seriously. the war is a team effort and often the "REMFs" are called upon to fight as infantry, especially with the new "asymmetric warfare," (lovely buzzword, eh? ) even US soldier truck drivers, in say the early days of the Iraq War, bringing in supplies found themselves under attack by enemies that often were better armed than they were. Logistics are the new target nowadays. This as opposed to the armor and infantry that were usually far better armed than any of their Iraqi soldiers that melted away in front of them.

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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    Most of all? Supply corps. Without them, no one would go anywhere, use anything, or do anything.

    Logistics are key. Combat arms are pretty much a wash as most infantry of industrialized nations will be relatively well trained, equipped, and fed. Good leadership can make up for many deficiencies. But if you lose the battle of resupply, it doesn't matter how good you are. Just ask Rommel...

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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    Very true. Same happened in the East during Barbarossa, and in the West during Dunkirk.

    Every time Germany might have won a decisive Victory that could've knocked a major power down and out, it's logistics failed it, or at least so it seems...
    The fundamental problem of Democracy is that the majority of voters are idiots fueled by uninformed rage - and the Politicians do everything to cater to them.

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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    there can be no question that the civilians at home did their part and helped win the war in their own way. carpooling, rations, care packages, etc. - also no question can be asked of the men who landed on d-day or j-day or any other day for that matter. medics, marines, infantry, seamen, airmen, basically everyone who fought did whatever they had to do and therefore deserve the credit just as much as anyone else. to me the question is equivilent to "who was the bravest man in the war?" -
    without supplies, armies and troops however strong the numbers are essentially useless. men die without food, ammunition, even cigarettes and playing cards when you think about it - my grandfather was a cb and took part in some udt missions and i personally feel these men did not get the credit given to the marines and army but thats just my little rant part - this is indeed a tough question to pose and one im not sure CAN be answered - did the ncbs busting their asses to get supplies to and fro, watching from their transports as the navy ships and aircraft destroyed what they would have to rebuild only a day or two later - or the udts who scouted and setup the marine landings in the pacific so the marines could come in and get their pics taken on the news reels - or the medics who scrambled against time, under fire, like has been said previously in keeping the men alive and strong enough to fight - who could possibly say who was the best individual group or corp or w/e ? you could argue i suppose that codebreakers, engineers, even scientists who worked for manhattan project, you could argue the nazis even were instrumental in the allied victory due to all their mistakes ( a la scott norwood as the best NY giant player) - i dunno man - i guess after all that rambling id have to answer the engineering and logistical feats of the war was the most important if there needs be an answer - but i still say its impossible to answer really...
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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    Most of all? Supply corps. Without them, no one would go anywhere, use anything, or do anything.
    I wouldn't have said better myself.
    No food and no ammo won't get any soldier very far.

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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    Well, not quite... Part of the reason why the 30-Years War lasted so long was because the armies allowed their soldiers to take whatever supplies they needed from the civil population - obviously very shitty for the civilians, but it worked at keeping the armies going even with very limited to no supplies provided by the army...
    The fundamental problem of Democracy is that the majority of voters are idiots fueled by uninformed rage - and the Politicians do everything to cater to them.

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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    Civilians were providing ammo too?
    Armies were constantly fighting in a solid front in the thirty year war?
    You can't really compare modern attrition wars(were supplies are one of the key to success) with some battles here and there as seen in the seven year war or the Napoleonic wars,an army losing ,signing a peace treaty,licking its wounds and fight again a year or so later.

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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    Quote Originally Posted by kamehouse View Post
    You can't really compare modern attrition wars(were supplies are one of the key to success) with some battles here and there as seen in the seven year war or the Napoleonic wars,an army losing ,signing a peace treaty,licking its wounds and fight again a year or so later.
    True, but Napoleon recognised the importance of logistics with his famous comment that an army marches on its stomach.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    This thread reminds me of the one I made - "Which country contributed most to the Allied Victory?"
    It is somewhat like comparing apples and pears... Though anyone knows that cheries are the best, yet keepS arguing...

    Though I do not think that asking this questions is irrelevant.

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    Default Re: Which corps contribute most to an army's effectiveness?

    Well, Kamehouse, we never said what kind of war the army was going to fight, whether it was a war of attrition, a war of movement or a war of occupation (term I just made up for Iraq & Afghanistan ).

    I was simply making a point that there are situations where the supplies can be arranged from different sources, too.
    The fundamental problem of Democracy is that the majority of voters are idiots fueled by uninformed rage - and the Politicians do everything to cater to them.

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